Building Your Spiritual Home
Opening Many Doors
One of the ways to lead a rich life is to open as many doors
as possible, and at least take a peak inside. If it looks
good, try entering. If it feels good, stay a while, at least.
If you stay in one room and don’t venture, you will
feel secure, but your life will be very limited, dull. Staying
secure is part of the death march. Trying new things does
create anxiety. Part of finding the fullness of life is tolerating
this anxiety, not letting it stop you.
Just for fun, I made a list of a bunch of doors that I have
opened and entered and enjoyed:
First and best- having children
Making good friends
Carlos Casteneda and the world of sorcery
Camping and love of nature
Creative Movement and theater games
Flying a plane
Doing the Phoenix puzzle
I expect there are many more. The Phoenix puzzle is a good
metaphor. It was a puzzle that appeared each week in the Boston
Phoenix, a local newspaper. Each week it was different. One
week it had pictures of twenty types of pasta and we had to
identify them. Another week, it was a series of gravestones
with initials and dates of death. We need to find out who
was buried that day. Another time it was pieces of silverware
needing to be named. Sometimes a number puzzle, or a code
to be broken. And every week I would go on a journey, sometimes
inside as I would struggle to decipher a code, or on an outer
journey as I would ask five chefs if they would help me with
the pasta. Sometimes it would take an hour, sometimes a whole
weekend. I threw myself into them with my whole heart, which
made them both exciting and fascinating. Then one day the
Phoenix stopped publishing puzzles. A very sad day for me!
I learned a lot from this pursuit. For one thing, it was
exciting only because I made it so important to myself. If
I had accepted defeat when it presented itself, this hobby
would have been pretty bland. For another I realized that
one of the big plusses was all the interesting people I met
looking for the answers: chefs, antique dealers, neighbors
and others I enrolled in my pursuit. Finally it was a safe
way to get involved in lots of different worlds. Every week
a new search, unfamiliar terrain, struggle, get help, keep
going, break through. This puzzle was a worthy but manageable
opponent. It was a battle, but no one got injured, and in
winning, no one had to be a loser.
Another personality trait that helped me to enjoy these
paths is my willingness to do things badly. My wife, who believes
anything worth doing is worth doing well, is in awe of me
and my capacity for mediocrity. But I do think that this trait
has allowed me to follow my interests without asking “am
I qualified?”, “do I know what I’m doing?”
I tolerate failure pretty well, so there is little that looks
like fun that I can’t at least try.
Some of the opened doors have led to lifelong pursuits,
like meditation or journalling. Some have happily ended after
a while- I gardened vigorously for six years, took a sabbatical,
and never returned. I currently feel I have a rich life, full
of passions, like this writing I am doing right now, and am
glad for all the paths I have tried.
1) What are some doors you have opened?
Which have worked?
Which have not?
2) Were there doors you wish you’d opened but didn’t?
3) Where are you on the balance between choosing security
(sameness) versus adventure (pushing yourself into new turf)?
4) Make a list of doors you might like to open.
GET A LIFE
THE JOY OF A DEPRESSED
OPENING MANY DOORS
THE PATH OF MEDITATION
GIVING UP CONTROL
MARRIAGE AS A CHANGE
STRUCTURES THAT SUPPORT
VERMONT AND NATURE
TO HELL WITH DIGNITY
COMPANIONS ON THE ROAD
WHAT SHAPES LIFE
MAKING FRIENDS WITH GOD